The University is committed to fostering a supportive community of learning where students are able to participate fully in their academic studies and wider student experience. The University aims to provide a positive and supportive approach to the management of physical and mental health to support academic achievement and student experience. We expect our students to act responsibly and to behave in ways that do not compromise either their own wellbeing or that of other members of the University community. We also recognise that, in some circumstances, students may experience difficulties or have conditions that may require additional support in order for them to meet their responsibilities.
We provide a range of support services that help students in our academic community deal with aspects of student life that can inhibit learning. These support services do not equate to those provided by medical/therapeutic services such as those offered within the NHS, as the University is primarily an educational institution.
The University recognises that there are sometimes circumstances where it is in the best interest of a student and of the community for a student not to be studying, even if the student does not agree.
This policy describes how we will discharge our duties of care in response to concerns about students’ fitness to study and/or attend. It enables the University to respond appropriately to situations where there are substantial concerns about a student’s welfare and/or their impact on the safety or welfare of others.
In applying this policy we will keep the student at the heart of the process, make every effort to involve them at every stage and will communicate in a clear and timely fashion about how the process is being progressed.
The Support to Study procedure may be applied when, allowing for any adjustments required under equality legislation:
There are significant concerns about a student’s ability to fulfil academic progress requirements without serious detriment to their own physical or mental health or the safety and wellbeing of other members of the University community;
Other support processes within the University have been offered and/or have been exhausted; or
A student is experiencing mental health difficulties which are adversely impacting on their day to day functioning. This may include students who are in hospital and who may have been detained under the Mental Health Act.
This stage of the process should be initiated when the student’s department or college have raised concerns with the student and the expected improvements to engagement in support and student have not taken place. It can also be initiated if the concerns raised are too serious to be dealt with informally (for example if there is a clear risk of harm to self or significant harm or disruption to others).
The student will be informed of the concerns and will be invited to attend a meeting (with a minimum of five working days’ notice) with a Support to Study Panel Chair, at least one representative from the student’s academic department, and one from the student’s college.
Where relevant, colleagues from support departments will be invited in an advisory capacity. A Facilitator will be identified and will carry out the roles in respect of record keeping and convening meetings and acting as an independent point of communication between the student and those who are considering the case.
The student can, if they wish to, be accompanied by a representative of YUSU or GSA advice services. In exceptional circumstances and by prior agreement, students may be accompanied by another member of the University or other appropriate supporter.
During the meeting:
i. the concerns about fitness to study/attend will be outlined to the student, who will have an opportunity to respond.
ii. A written action plan will be produced and shared with the student:
iii. A review period will be agreed
The formal stage of a Support to Study case will be overseen by a Support to Study Panel (the ‘Panel’). The Panel’s membership will comprise at least two representatives as appropriate from Student Life and Wellbeing and/or Student Services. The Panel will operate fairly and seek to avoid bias, placing the welfare of the student at the heart of their considerations.
They will seek to provide the student who is the subject of the procedure the opportunity to express their views and to provide information that they wish to have taken into account in the consideration of their case. The Independent Facilitator will ensure that the reasons for decisions taken under the procedure are communicated clearly to the student.
The role of the Panel is to consider whether the student is fit to undertake their studies and meet the assessment requirements of their programme and whether they will be able to do so without risk of harm to themselves or others.
The case conference will hold a discussion of the case and will, where possible, agree actions which will be captured in an enhanced written action plan, shared with the student, to include:
In the event that a student's registration is suspended or a Leave of Absence is agreed as the result of the Support to Study process, they will be required to demonstrate that they are fit to return to study. In order to fulfil this obligation, the University requires certification from the University Medical Advisor with regards to the student's physical/mental health and level of functioning. This is expected to follow a full consultation in which the student and the Medical Advisor discuss the reasons for the Leave of Absence/suspension, the student's current state of health, and the coping strategies the student expects to employ in their return to study. It is recognised that the University's Medical Adviser may also need to contact other professionals involved in the student's care to form a clear view of the student's ability to return to study. Awaiting this certification should not preclude planning for a return.
Decisions regarding a student’s return to study following either a Leave of Absence or suspension of studies should be made by the panel with the student’s involvement where possible. If the student is not able to be present or involved, the student must be informed in writing of any proposals with relevant records held by the Academic Registrar’s office to ensure oversight of the process. The panel may, if necessary, request further information or opinion as regards a student’s fitness to return.
Appeals will follow the procedure outlined for appeals against disciplinary suspensions, exclusions or terminations under Regulation 7.
Who to contact
Referrals to the Support to Study process can be made by:
a student instigating the procedure (for themselves)
the relevant Academic Department via its Head of Department or Head of School or relevant Chair of Board of Studies (often prompted by the student’s Supervisor) or their delegate
a senior member of College staff
A member of the Student and Academic Services Directorate Management Team or their Deputy
Referrals can be made using the referrals form